Rock County, WI

Tactics Used

Reverse stings
Auto seizure
Community service
Public education
Neighborhood action
SOAP orders
John school
Web stings
License suspension

Prostitution and sex trafficking activity have been well-documented in the communities and unincorporated areas of Rock County, WI.  This activity and the problems and ancillary crimes it generates results in complaints to law enforcement agencies from residents and businesses. For example, in May, 2015, three women and one man were arrested in connection with a drug and prostitution sting in Edgerton.  The Rock County Sheriff’s Office’s SWAT team, Special Investigations Unit and officers from Edgerton police searched several apartments and common areas at an apartment complex on N. Henry St. in Edgerton, in connection with a drug and prostitution ring investigation. The sheriff’s office said the search warrants were specifically written to locate evidence of drug trafficking and prostitution alleged to have been taking place in three apartments. Over the course of one month, SIU and Edgerton officers conducted interviews and surveillance of the apartments, and the investigation substantiated the claims and resulted in the search and arrests. Charges included keeping a place of prostitution, soliciting prostitutes, maintaining a drug trafficking place, felon in possession of a firearm and possession of drug paraphernalia, and a probation hold.

Consumer level demand provides the revenue stream for all prostitution and sex trafficking, and has therefore been targeted by local law enforcement agencies as a strategy for prevention and response. For example, in the early 1990s, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office ran a sting that used magazine classified ads to lure people who collect child pornography.  The county disbanded the sting because of the cost to taxpayers to investigate and jail people lured from outside the county.

In September 2017, the Wisconsin’s Attorney General announced the arrest of 25 males in sex trafficking operations conducted across the state. The web-based reverse stings were focused in northern and eastern Wisconsin, and operations focused on people seeking children for sex and johns who solicit prostituted persons. Some of the sex buyers arrested were seeking sex with 14-and 15-year-old children.  Charges include soliciting a prostitute, pandering, soliciting a child for prostitution, attempted second degree sexual assault of a child, child enticement, using a computer to facilitate a child sex crime, exposing a child to harmful material, and exposing a child to harmful narrations. The Rock County Sheriff’s Office was one of the agencies collaborating in these operations. The Wisconsin reverse sting were part of the National Johns Suppression Initiative. In a news release announcing the results of the operations, the Attorney General said:

“The only reason human trafficking exists is because there is a demand for buying sex. Those creating the demand – the johns who buy victims and the pimps who are exploiting them – are not safe to exploit and coerce people in our state. When I was sworn in as attorney general, I put johns on notice. We are coming for you, and for some – we already got you. DOJ’s Human Trafficking Bureau’s arrests this summer will not be the last.”

In March 2019, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office collaborated with Janesville police and other agencies to arrest three men on suspicion of pandering in an effort to reduce human trafficking in the area. During the operation, 25 to 30 men responded to an ad and reached out to request sex acts from undercover police. Authorities arrested three men on suspicion of pandering after the men showed up at the hotel. All three were arrested and faced misdemeanor charges, and were taken into custody at the Rock County Jail. The men were all identified in news releases, and were tentatively charged with misdemeanor pandering, and one was booked into the Rock County Jail on a parole violation. The sting took place at a hotel on Midland Road, with the hotel providing three rooms for free to the police.  Agencies taking part in the sting included the Janesville, Beloit, Clinton and town of Beloit Police Departments, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office and District Attorney’s Office, the Janesville Fire Department and the Division of Criminal Investigation of the Wisconsin Department of Justice.


Key Partners

  • Rock County Sheriff’s Office
  • Janesville Police Department
  • Eagle River Police Department
  • Juneau County Sheriff’s Office
  • Kohler Police Department
  • McFarland Police Department
  • Monona Police Department
  • Rock County District Attorney
  • Sheboygan County District Attorney
  • Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Office
  • Sheboygan Falls Police Department
  • Sturgeon Bay Police Department
  • Clinton Police Department
  • Beloit Police Department
  • Janesville Fire Department
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice
    • Division of Criminal Investigation
  • Community members providing tips to police
  • Hotels providing space for reverse stings

Key Sources

Web Based Reverse Stings, Shaming:

Proactive Efforts to Identify and Arrest Sex Buyers:


Sex Trafficking and Child Sexual Exploitation in the Area:

Background on Prostitution in the Area:

Documented Violence Against Individuals Engaged in Prostitution in the Area:

State Wisconsin
Type County
Population 161448
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